Origin and History
The regiment was created on October 4 1676 as “Barbezieres”. It then belonged to the House of Cassagnet de Tilladet. On December 12 1724, it became the property of the House of Condé till the death of Louis Henri, Duc de Bourbon on February 21 1740. After various colonels, the Marquis de Marboeuf acquired the regiment on July 11 1755. In November 1761, the ownership of the regiment passed to the House of Moreton de Chabrillan.
During the War of the Polish Succession, in 1733 and 1734, the regiment served with the Army of the Rhine and then went to Stenay.
During the War of the Austrian Succession, the regiment took part in the invasion of Bohemia in 1741. It was later transferred to Flanders where it campaigned till 1748.
In 1749, the regiment was stationed at Périgueux; in 1752, at Besançon; in 1753, at the camp of Gray; and in 1755, at Strasbourg.
In 1756, the regiment counted 4 squadrons and ranked 15th.
During the Seven Years' War, the regiment was under the command of:
- since July 11 1755: Charles Louis René, Marquis de Marboeuf
- from November 30 1761 till June 5 1763: Jacques Aymard de Moreton, Comte de Chabrillan
In 1774, the regiment became the “Dragons de Monsieur le Comte de Provence”.
Service during the War
By August 1 1757, the 4 squadrons of the regiment were stationed at Guingamp in Bretagne. Two squadrons then remained in France to guard the Coasts of Bretagne while the two others were sent to Haguenau and later joined the French army in Germany.
On September 11 1758, the two squadrons operating in Bretagne took part in the Combat of Saint-Cast.
In 1759, the regiment was re-united at Vienne (France) on the banks of the Rhône. The same year, it was sent back to the Coasts of Bretagne.
In 1760, two squadrons were sent to Germany once more and remained there till the end of the war.
|Headgear||red fatigue cap with a red turn-up edged with a white braid decorated with a violet stripe|
or black tricorne (reinforced with an iron skullcap for combat) laced silver, with a black cockade on the left side fastened with a black silk strap and a small white button
|Neck stock||black cravate|
|Coat||red lined red with white buttons and white laced buttonholes arranged 3 by 3 down to the pocket and a white button on each side at the small of the back
|Waistcoat||red with white buttons on the right side and white laced buttonholes on both sides|
N.B.: the fatigue cap was supposed to be worn only for the king's review, for foraging or when the regiment's chief ordered to wear it. In fact, dragoons often wore their fatigue cap during campaigns.
Troopers were armed with a musket, a bayonet, a pistol and a sabre. Carabiniers were armed with a rifle instead of a musket.
Evolution of the uniform during the war
Throughout the war the French dragoon uniform seems to have evolved significantly. Our only primary sources for the uniform at the start of the conflict are the Etat Général des Troupes Françoises of 1753. The first primary pictorial evidence comes from Raspe in 1761. Here we present various interpretations of the evolution of the uniform.
Raspe's publication illustrating the uniform towards the end of 1760 shows the following evolutions:
- a black bearskin with a red bag and tassel instead of a tricorne
- no laced buttonholes on the coat, pocket flaps, cuffs and waistcoat
- no buttons on the cuffs
- black cavalry boots
Raspe's publication illustrating the uniform towards the end of 1761 shows a uniform corresponding to our description from 1757 but with a white cockade at the tricorne.
In December 1762, a regulation introduced a brand new green uniform with aurore (light orange) as the distinctive colour.
The uniforms of the officers were similar to those of the troopers with the following differences:
- the coat was made of Elbeuf woollen cloth (or of a woollen cloth of identical quality)
- linings were made of woollen cloth as well
- no braids on the coat or waistcoat but only silver buttonholes with silver plated wooden buttons
- Raspe publication illustrates, at the end of 1760, plain red coat and waistcoat without edging or laced buttonholes
- Raspe publication illustrates, at the end of 1761, a uniform corresponding to our description
- red breeches
- saddle cloth and housings bordered with a silver braid (5.41 cm wide for captains and 4.06 cm wide for lieutenants)
- standard cavalry officer sword (gilt copper hilt, 83.92 cm long)
Officers were also armed with a musket and a bayonet and carried a cartridge pouch containing 6 cartridges. This musket was shorter than the muskets carried by troopers.
The maréchaux-des-logis and sergeants had similar uniforms made of Romorantin woolen cloth. Their coats and waistcoats had no silver buttonholes. They carried sabres like the maréchaux-des-logis of the cavalry regiments. Their saddle-clothes and housings were bordered with a 2.7 cm wide silver braid.
Drummers wore a coat similar to the one worn by the musicians of the cavalry. Musicians were always shaved and had no moustache. They were usually mounted on grey horses.
From 1753 to 1761, drummers of the regiment wore uniforms at the livery of the House of Marboeuf which is unfortunately unknown. From 1761, they wore the livery of the House of Moreton de Chabrillan. As per a watercolour dated from 1748 in the collection of the prince de la Moskova and described J. Belaubre (N°6/1957 S.C.F.H.) from a manuscript of the Weimar Library (Cabinet des Estampes):
- Coat without collar fasted by 6 silver buttons, green cuffs and turnbacks. White braid decorated with a green waved braid and green speckles in the trough of each “wave”. This braid was laid-out in widely spaced vertical bands on the front of the coat down to the belt, on the seams of the sleeves, and on the edges of the cuffs, turnbacks and pockets. Green waistcoat edged with the same braid. Green breeches. White cravate, black tricorne laced gold and bordered with white plumes with a black cockade. Red saddle cloth bordered with the same braid. Trumpets had red aprons fringed in gold embroidered with the golden crowned arms with a scroll beneath bearing an unreadable motto.
Regimental guidons (4 silken swallow-tailed guidons): crimson field embroidered and fringed in silver; centre device consisting of a golden royal sun surmounted by a red scroll bearing the motto “NEC PLURIBUS IMPAR”
This article is mostly a translation Jean-Louis Vial's article “Marboeuf Dragons” published on his website Nec Pluribus Impar. The article also incorporates texts from the following books which are now in the public domain::
- Pajol, Charles P. V.: Les Guerres sous Louis XV, vol. VII, Paris, 1891, p. 435-436
Funcken, Liliane and Fred: Les uniformes de la guerre en dentelle
Menguy, Patrice: Les Sujets du Bien Aimé (a website who has unfortunately disappeared from the web)
Raspe, Gabriel Nicolas: Recueil de toutes les troupes qui forment les armées françoises, Nuremberg 1761
Raspe, Gabriel Nicolas: Recueil de toutes les troupes qui forment les armées françoises, Nuremberg 1762
Rogge, Christian: The French & Allied Armies in Germany during the Seven Years War, Frankfurt, 2006
Service Historique de l'armée de terre: Sommaire des forces armées Françaises à l'intérieur et à l'extérieur de la France - 1er Août 1757
N.B.: the section Service during the War is partly derived from our articles depicting the various campaigns, battles and sieges.